Charter schools in New York trade greater autonomy over how to operate schools in exchange for greater accountability for academic outcomes. Each charter school has a charter or contract that is signed by its board of trustees and the authorizer of the school. As part of the contract, the Accountability Plan for each school establishes the academic goals that must be met and how those goals will be measured.
Contracts last a maximum of five years as set by law in the New York Charter Schools Act. In order to continue operating, a charter school must apply to renew its contract or charter at the end of each charter term. Receiving approval to continue operating is the core of the accountability required by the Act.
Renewal Requirements and Benchmarks
SUNY authorized charter schools must apply for renewal, and submit information and documentation on the school’s record over the charter term. The Institute also conducts a renewal visit as part of the application process. The State University of New York Board of Trustees evaluate schools using the data submitted by the school and the data collected by the Institute along four questions contained in the SUNY Renewal Benchmarks. These questions ask:
- Is the school an academic success?
- Is the school an effective, viable organization?
- Is the school fiscally sound?
- If the school’s charter is renewed, what are its plans the next charter term, and are they reasonable, feasible and achievable?
Schools must present a comprehensive and evidence-based case of the growth and increase in student achievement over the life of the charter, and that the school has in place the systems to continue that growth in the future. Additionally, schools must demonstrate they are a financially sound and viable organization.
Initial Charter Term
SUNY charter schools in their initial charter term are eligible to receive a full-term renewal of the five year maximum or a short-term renewal of three years. In order to receive full-term renewal, a school must demonstrate to the SUNY Trustees a strong and compelling record of meeting its accountability goals. A school can receive a short-term renewal from the SUNY Trustees if the academic record of the school is mixed or the results are limited. A school may have its charter not renewed or renewed with conditions.
Subsequent Charter Term
SUNY charter schools in subsequent charter terms are only eligible for a full-term renewal or non-renewal. Again, in order to receive renewal from the SUNY Trustees, a school must demonstrate a strong and compelling record of meeting its accountability goals. A school may have its charter renewed with conditions.